Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The end of the year:

Today was windy, and the weather shifted. We've been so warm. Finally tonight we had a fire in the fireplace again.

I spent the entire morning taking off ornaments, taking down the tree, packing away everything in the house that smacked of Christmas, reorganizing all the storage cabinets downstairs, packing all that away again, delivering home-made turtles to friends, finishing laundry, practicing piano, and reading.

I finished A Vineyard in Tuscany by Ferenc Mate, and started Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The Mate book was nice but fluffy - typical romantic Tuscany. The Robinson book seems like MUCH more serious literature, but very good. I think I will enjoy it.

Tonight Adam and I tried to watch a Nero Wolf movie, but the DVD was troublesome. A scratch on it or something. So, here I am blogging, instead.

And poor Peter. He returned this morning from spending the night with a friend. By noon he was very ill in the bathroom. He heaved all afternoon. I think he's better now - he'd better be, because I don't think he even had his insides left to contribute!

Oh, I hope nobody else in the family gets it!!! Adam and I are planning a B&B trip soon, and I really don't want to take Mr. Stomach Bug along!

Uh Oh...

It's turtle-time again.
Adam is in the kitchen. He said if he didn't make turtles this year, it would be just TOO depressing, even if chocolate is a bit more expensive than last year. The turtles taste just as good!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

As the year ends,

I do contemplate the blessings we have right now:

We both have jobs. Don't know how long they'll last, but tomorrow is the Lord's business. I'm thankful to have regular income.

Health. Never, ever again will I take for granted the blessings of health, after the years of illness Adam suffered. What a huge blessing to have him healthy and able to work! There were many days, weeks, months, when I didn't think he'd work again, or engage in life with such vigor.

Our children. They're far from perfect, and we tire of their antics and fighting, but we are blessed to have generally bright, happy, obedient children, and ones who love the Lord. We pray this continues.

Opportunities to serve. In addition to our teaching jobs, which are ministries in themselves, Adam and I both have such great chances to serve in our wonderful church, with such loving, godly believers. It's important to find places where your gifts can be used, use them, and then remember not to complain that you're serving so much :)

A happy marriage. We've seen couples who tolerate each other, couples who love each other but don't nourish their relationship, couples who fuss and fight, couples who've drifted apart. I'm so thankful for a husband who devotes himself to nourishing our marriage, learning new ways to spoil and love me, forgiving my offenses, and blithely accepting my quirks. He strives to love me in a way that imitates Christ's love. We're much more in love now than we were 20 years ago.

A home. A comfortable, pleasant home is easy to take for granted, until you've done without one for a number of years. We both love to be home.

Spiritual security. That's an odd phrase, I know, but it just expresses the fact that Adam and I both have a relationship with God based on trust in Him, in the steadfastness of His character, and the unchangeableness of His promises. So, distresses in life don't faze us as much as they used to, or might otherwise. I find myself more often viewing life's occurrences in the light of where I'm going: a new earth. This life is a training ground, a test. I do not believe in the saying, "He's so heavenly minded that he's no earthly good." To be increasingly heavenly-minded is the Christian's goal. I'm thankful for God's leading my mind in that direction.

A new year spreads ahead. I know God looks ahead at my future, seeing and directing every moment. So I can gaze at the past in thanks, knowing all that I thank Him for was directed by him as well.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Look what I found in the yard today!

The first camellia of the season. It's so nice to have something that blooms in winter here. This bush is always first, and it puts spring in my heart to think of all the things that will be blooming in the months to come.

We went to the mountains

For a little more Christmas fun with my parents. Here's a winter shot of their home. They're on top of a mountain, so it looks a little bleak, tree-wise.

And here's Julia, getting a little Grandmotherly Love! I told my mom I had to get a picture of her with her famous (and I do mean famous) Sunday roast in the pot. I wonder how many thousands of people have enjoyed her Sunday roast at their home, over the years?
We had a great time there, did a little shopping, in which Belk was a disappointment, but the local resale shop was a HUGE success! All Adam could say was that some retailer really missed out on selling him a $200 wool, herringbone suitcoat, and a lovely pair of loafers. He found the coat for $1, and the shoes for $3. Hey - when you live in a rabidly consumeristic society like America, it just makes sense to wait a bit until some poor schnook gets rid of his almost-new stuff. We willingly wait to receive it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Looking afresh at the old story

Adam has preached recently at our church, and one Sunday he asked us to look at the Christmas story in a new way. He just took us through both Matthew and Luke and put some things into place.

So, Jesus was born in Bethlehem; we all know that. How long did he stay there? Some people have him living in that town for a couple of years.

But, we know he was back in Jerusalem just a week later. He was in the Temple on his 8th day, for his circumcision.

Well, did they then go back to Bethlehem? Yes. The wise men found them there, Scripture says. But the wise men went to Jerusalem first -- the wise men who were following the star -- the star that stayed over the Christ Child. Why did the wise men go to Jerusalem first, before going to Bethlehem? Perhaps they did it because the star was over Jerusalem. Because the babe was there, in the Temple.

And the wise men went on to Bethlehem, again following the star. How long did they stay? Adam says the Greek of these verses indicates immediacy and speed: the wise men were instructed to leave, and then, probably that same night, Joseph is told to leave in haste. Herod would have wasted no time, after the wise men left Jerusalem, in tracking down this new king. He kept a local garrison of 1000 soldiers, overlooking Bethlehem.

So. The little family fled to Egypt, perhaps sooner than some of us had thought. How long did they stay there? A year? Two? No, because Mary was back in the Temple again at 30 days, for her purification, as a good Jewish woman would do. And after that, Scripture says they returned to Nazareth.

These are just thoughts, and possibilities. But when viewed in this light, the indications of danger, panic, warning, and escape are very intense. Adam says Greeks reading these gospels, with their amazing abilities to integrate texts, would see these relationships immediately. So, read back over these passages with new, connecting eyes.

A Merry Christmas Photo

It's Philip's Birthday!

There's the birthday boy! I traipsed into his room this morning with the birthday song on my lips, but he was already awake! We took the family to eat for lunch; his choice? A pizza place!

Here's his cake: the perennial Mississippi Mud Cake. I think he's had this for the past 10 years at least. Gooey, marshmallow-laden and out-of-this-world delish!
Please note the interesting Hot Chocolate Pot behind the cake. This was a teacher gift to Adam this year, and boy is it fun! Fill it with milk, heat in microwave, add chocolate chips, place lid and mixing device on, and voila! The holiday beverage is ready! The tall part on the top has batteries in it, and there is a whirling wand that sticks down and immerses into the liquid, to froth it up a little. Fun!

Adam and Peter discuss computer games

There's my sweet girl! She usually cowers and hides from the camera.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What I did 3 days before Christmas:

You already saw breakfast.

About 10:45 I dragged Adam out of the house (well, okay, so he wanted to come. I did warn him), and I visited the latest 2nd-hand shop I just heard about yesterday. It's called "Yokefellow." Odd, I know. No, not Oddfellows...haha.

Anyway. It's as cheap as Sally's, and twice as big. It's run by a Christian ministry of a group of churches. I browsed in that leisurely way that women usually only do when they are ALONE. Adam sat in the car, played a game on his laptop, and told me NOT TO HURRY. I did the most time-consuming thing you can do in a resale-shop (besides trying on pants!): I looked at their books. And I only looked at about 1/2 of them -- I'll have to go back. I found about 8 to buy, as little Christmas extras.

After lunch, Julia's friend Ruth came over, and I took them to the movie, "The Tale of Despereaux." A good movie, and rated G, although a couple of parts would be scary enough for a 3 year old, that I was a little surprised. I mean, it's not Winnie the Pooh. But World Magazine was correct in its assessment that the movie's theme of forgiveness gives it a deeper message than the usual "good guy/bad guy" flick.

Adam's making his yummy grilled chicken salad for supper.

And tonight, if I'm up to it, we may go shopping at the mall. I still need some pants.

This morning's breakfast:

In case you were wondering:
2 soft-boiled eggs - don't trust "Joy of Cooking" on timing cooking eggs. I intended to have soft-boiled, but they were hard-boiled. oh well. I love using my egg cups.
2 pieces of toasted walnut-cranberry bread from Panera. A lovely teacher gift.
Darjeeling tea

Isn't my little chicken creamer adorable? I bought him at Womble Inn in Brevard, NC, when it was still Womble Inn. It was the last one they had in the inn.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The past couple of days:

Involved a Christmas Party at Julia's best friend's house - it's lots of fun each year! Here are Julia and Ruth:

Julia thought I wouldn't take this picture - ha!

Here's my Sunday morning breakfast, thanks to my dear hubby - there's nothing to beat the fabulous texture of fresh-from-the-oven scones with cream. But...I've said that before, haven't I?

The relaxation has begun.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I've heard of a deep-freeze...

...all over the rest of the nation.

But here in central North Carolina, it is BALMY.

I keep telling Adam that this feels like Christmas in south Mississippi. You just have to live there to understand the unusual balminess of Deep South Christmases. You can walk outside with just long sleeves. You can play football on Christmas Day and sweat.

Well, except this year. This year, I hear, they've had snow in Mississippi.

But not here. We are warm. I'm sure it will chilly-up soon enough.

We are DONE with school - Yippee! I'm so glad. One month from today, on January 19, I STILL won't be back in school :) Nice, long break. For a while in there, I'll be chaperoning 10 students in England. Does that count as work? I guess it depends on the students!

Waiting for Christmas

A close-up of last night's fire. We do this whenever we have the chance.

A sweet terracotta angel I've had for years.

My brother Max made this star ornament a number of years ago. He is (or was?) a rather expert potter.

Sweet sleep

We have one child left who hovers under the tree, examining the presents.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'm on my way to the mountains,

To do a little singing. I'm not staying overnight. I'm not having a little vacation (sad, I know...). I'm not staying to visit. Just singing. And returning so I can be at work tomorrow morning at 7:30.

I try not to think about the fact that I have to be at work by 7:30 each weekday morning -- and am usually there earlier. It's just too discouraging! It is an act against nature to make my body and my brain simultaneously be functioning that early.

So, singing. A Christmas Cantata at my parents' church. It will be fun, and very Christmasy in the very best of ways: worshipful and wondering at the coming of God's Son into this world. There could almost be NO better image of the spiritual mystery of that coming, than to place a newborn baby in a place filled with animal dung and dirt.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Houses

Here are some of my fun lighted Christmas houses that sit on our front window sill.

This is one I added this year, the Log Cabin. Rather plush for a log cabin, don't you think? I'd like to live there, especially with the snow!

Using the flash allows you to see the detail, but then the windows don't glow.

My favorite Christmas House :)

Friday, December 12, 2008


Hi! To get to Gloria's blog, go to my blog page,and scroll down until you see "favorite blogs and websites" along the left hand. She's in there! Happy reading!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


That's the local price of gas now!! Who would have thunk it!

On a totally different note:

Upon reading my MIL's blog today, which described the wonders of an old-fashioned childhood Thanksgiving, I had to grin. We spent Thanksgiving, as you know, on a farm in West Virginia, with milk from the cow and eggs from the chicken. As a matter of fact, on our last morning there, we were waiting on the chickens.

Anne made her fabulous Belgian waffles for breakfast. Now, my daddy likes an egg for breakfast, but I believe all the eggs had been used that morning for the waffles for the crowd. I'd been out to the chicken house the previous morning (I like to collect the eggs) and the obliging chickens had placed all 6 eggs in one nest. For a chilly November, 6 eggs isn't too shabby.

But this last morning, Daddy needed an egg. Max went out and checked. No eggs yet that morning. It usually isn't until after 10:00 that the eggs are available and the chickens have left their roosts. But Max said there was one uncomfortable-looking chicken, grumpily sitting in her nest. Most likely trying to deliver that egg! He tried to reach under her, but she wouldn't let him!

So he waited, went out a bit later, and sure enough, there was Daddy's egg! He brought it, still warm, into the kitchen. And Daddy had his breakfast. Now - that's one fresh egg!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nothing going on here...

Except that I'm sitting on my usual spot on the couch, grading papers. Research papers. Creative writing. Essays. The usual.

Christmas break is so close I can almost taste it. I love the delicious unwinding that occurs in the spirit, when the last grading is done, and there's no more work for weeks. And this year, I'll be done at noon on Dec. 19, and not be back in the classroom until the morning of Jan. 20. Can you believe it! I just LOVE our Winterim program (like a January term), and so do the students. This is one program that I hope we keep.

Well, we all know that I'm still sitting here, typing, because I don't want to pick up that last research paper and look at it. Or read the Hemingway short story that I've read about 10 times before, but need to read afresh each year.

My poor little students. I'm really trying to cram one last mouthful down their throats before the exams.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas decorating

Adam had fun putting up lights. Sorry this is a bit dark, but you get the idea.

These were all taken on Nov. 30, and I finally got the pictures on my computer! Anna helped so much with the tree decorating. Here she is with the tree skirt.

Philip and Julia helped figure out the lights.

Peter and Anna assembled all those color-coded layers of fake foliage :)

Sunday morning, Adam made us the most melt-in-your-mouth, delectable blueberry scones, with Devonshire cream. Oh -- I mean to say! Fabulous. He got that cream recipe from my mother's also-fabulous neighbor, Hunter, the Queen of Fabulous Teas!

Monday night's Christmas festivities:

Were a trip to a local nursing home with our church choir. We sang carols, plus one number from our upcoming cantata. It was lots of fun. The folks drifted down the halls on their walkers and sat down, sharing hymnals. We sang many old favorites. One elderly (and talkative) lady named Louise is quite a character. Like many other old ladies, she was drawn like a magnet to Adam, and talked his ear off. She is 96.

They have a Siamese cat at the nursing home, Sammy. He is 12, noble and statuesque. He let the children pet and pet him. Even Peter liked Sammy, and he's a dog-boy!!

Now we're home. I'm mostly recovered from my ickiness, and am grading papers - what else!?

It was very nice to sing and play for the folks there.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Not much to add here...

I'm still feeling a little puny, as my mother would say. You'll be glad to know that Adam the super-hubby is doing a good job of caring for me. I'm trying to grade a pile of tests, with moderate success.

And if I can make it through 8 more days of classes, I have a wonderful Christmas break awaiting me.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

A day on the couch

Sometime in the middle of the night last night, I came down with a stomach flu. It had the disturbing effect of making me feel as if I were JUST ABOUT to throw up. All night long, I dreamed over and over that I was throwing up. I woke up rather tired.

And achy. I haven't done anything today. This is usually my make pancakes/vacuum/do laundry/go to Sally's day, but I wasn't up to any of that! I've lain on this couch (and occasionally on the bed) like a slug. I did play the piano for about 5 minutes, but that sapped my strength. I'm hoping I'll be up to accompanying in church tomorrow.

Nobody wants to get the flu, but I must say that a day of enforced bed rest is not necessarily a bad thing. I only wish it had been a work day. And as one friend noted, now I probably won't be sick over Christmas! Or next weekend, when I have to sing in a cantata at my parents' church.

I wonder if I can squeeze one sick day out of this tomorrow?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The week's ending

Thankfully, it's Friday. It's been a long week. Of course, it's hard to go back to teaching after a break, for teachers and students alike. And the students aren't highly motivated since we have only a handful of days until Christmas Break. Who was it that decided to put these 2 vacations so close together? Wouldn't we all be better off it we had one LONG vacation with Thanksgiving at the beginning and Christmas at the end?

Please be in prayer for my mother. She had a seemingly harmless mass removed from her arm, only to find out from the tests later that there is evidence of cancer in the area. She'll have more surgery to explore and clean out the area, in January. We are concerned, but giving it to God, who knows her arm, and her life, better than we do.

And please continue to pray for our pastor and his wife. Honestly, sometimes the spouse has a harder time than the one who is sick, and Rob is having a difficult time, still, dealing with Bev's illness. Please pray.

Adam couldn't go to the grocery with me this evening because he has a session meeting (still gone to it, in fact), so I needed one of the boys to come with me to push the buggy (or, carriage, for you Massachusettians!!). Okay, I'm spoiled. I haven't had to push that big old buggy myself for quite some time now. And you know what? Both boys wanted to go! Now, I'm only taking ONE kid to the store, because my days of taking a handful of them were over LONG AGO. One boy will do, thank you. But, how to choose? Adam had them guess a number, and Peter won. Bless them both. It's nice to have helpful kids, and I must say that they've learned that attitude from years of watching their daddy serve their mom.

Last note: today the whole high school, plus teachers, went to Charlotte to the Operation Christmas Child distribution center, to help sort and pack shoeboxes. What a fun time! The kids loved it, the work was well-organized, and a happy spiritu of service and love pervaded the day. Bless that ministry, Lord.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

You say you want some more?

Max took all kids who wanted to go, caving. They have limestone caves running underneath much of their area. They had lots of fun. The kerchiefs are to prevent dust in the nose.

Marshall and Mark

Cousins eating on the porch. They loved goofing around. This is the same porch Philip slept on, on the floor. Nice, cool sleeping.

Katie, Patience, Hannah. We turn out some pretty girls in this family!

The clan on the front porch steps. Our friend Donald took many pictures for us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

While we're at it...

Katie makes some homemade ice cream, with a little help from cousins.

Grandfather, and all the girls. I thought this was a cute idea, and of course Daddy loved it!

Mother and Daddy sat for quite a while in these comfy chairs, and Anna couldn't help herself!!

We took lots of group shots. Here's Mark with his lovely family.

Faith and Grace

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A few more of those fun pics

The three oldest teenagers at the table

The matriarch and the patriarch

Adam carves the 32 lb. bird, and Max assists.

Grandmother holds her littlest addition to the clan!

Just had to show you the picture of the barn - I love that red and blue together.